These stories set in a revamped future are the latest craze in the literary world; but these predictions are a pretty dire. Here are the most terrifying dystopias, ranked from least to most scary.
1. The Selection
Set in a future USA, now called Ilea after the 4th World War, it showcases a nation divided up into numbered castes that each have their own roles in society: ones are royalty and eights are starving labourers. Another dystopia where an affluent upper class oppresses the lower classes, this is a pretty sad situation but not nearly that awful.
Society has been divided into five factions representing different aspects of human nature, and everyone must pledge loyalty to one. Those who don't fit neatly into one category are “divergent” and therefore dangerous. Each faction vies for more power, but as far as dystopia goes this isn't all that bad.
3. The Hunger Games
Pretty much the poster child for YA dystopia, this series has an oppressive dictatorship, the Capitol, forces every one of it’s ruled Districts to sacrifice one boy and one girl to engage in a televised, competitive fight to death. The more you read, the more awful it gets: starving commoners engage in backbreaking, low-paying work whilst the affluent Capitol residents lounge, watching District children die, and even those who win don't really get a happy ending.
4. The Giver
A world free from all suffering and pain, all people equal and hatred nonexistent, there are no lies nor is there any ambiguity. But here’s the clincher: no-one feels any emotion because “the Community” has such a rigid system that all joy, thrills and love have been engineered out of existence in favour of a vapid tranquility. Euthanasia is part of life, as is a lack of creativity: the more you think about it, the creepier it gets.
A world where authority dictates every aspect of citizen’s lives, from what you wear and where you work to who you can marry: teenagers are “matched” to their mates in a ceremony, and at the age of 80 every citizen is calmly killed off. Culture has been “de-cluttered”; there are only 100 Songs, 100 books and 100 paintings left on Earth. Again, an oddly blank existence with the added control of every aspect of everyone’s lives- depressing, much?
In a future where love is considered an illness and a procedure called the Cure is administered to prevent anyone from ever falling in love before matching them with their future husband or wife (sound familiar?), religion has been revamped to worship Science and Order, those who do catch “deliria” of love are driven to kill themselves. Not horrific enough for you?
Set in a futuristic Beijing, where the moon has been colonised and this nation of Luna has a longstanding rivalry with the “Earth countries”, which themselves face crumbling empires and shifting allegiances. Cyborgs are slaves which are par for the course, there’s a seemingly incurable plague that spreads from the lunar refugees fleeing their evil, genocidal queen. A commentary on social and racial divides that is a retelling of Cinderella, this is a dystopia equal parts interesting and terrifying.
A world where your sixteenth birthday brings aesthetic perception via an operation to erase all your flaws- transforming you from an “Ugly” to a “Pretty”, and catapulting you to a high-tech paradise where your only real job is to look good and have fun. The concept of having everyone forcefully look supermodel gorgeous is kind of creepy and individuality-robbing in itself, but protagonist Tally discovers there’s an even uglier side to the world of pretties. This gets more and more horrific as it progresses.
The year 2130, following societal and economic cataclysm, the western USA becomes a separate nation from the East. In this waitron nation, most of the citizens are crowded in slums and suffering from outbreaks of plague. To separate those worthy of an education from the weak, all children are subject to the Trial, an exam that determines whether you will have a life of service and privilege or be tossed into a labour camp for extermination. Terrifying in all its aspects, this is a future none of us want to witness.
10. The Maze Runner
When all of Earth is devastated by a “Sun Flares” slamming into the planet, making countless miles wasteland and killing millions, and succeeded by a sickness called the Flare that drove most of those crazy, making them lose their humanity. All the unaffected children remaining are pushed into a n underground maze designed to test their skills, leaving only the fittest to survive and emerge to save the world. This is the darkest YA view of the future on this list, leaving barely any life in our world.